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Old 10-10-2012, 08:10 AM   #121 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

VCU is #23 in CBSSports.com's Preseason Top 25: http://www.cbssports.com/collegebask...iews/no-23-vcu

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Why this team will be good: Last year VCU set a school record by winning 29 games -- and it did it with almost all defense. Suffocating, frenzied, chaotic-as-hell D. At A-10 media day, Smart said his team will be "much more able offensively" but will still run the "HAVOC" defense that led it to have such a great season in 2011-12. But beyond that, look at the personnel. You can see how Brad Burgess is the only departing player of impact. And Burgess was really good. But Melvin Johnson is a top-100 player that Smart and his staff got to Richmond. (Jordan Burgess is another, but he was ruled a partial qualifier for 2012-13. Stud frosh, too.)

Talent-wise, this looks to be the best team Smart's had in his four years. There are plenty of capable guards on this team -- maybe too many, as if that's a problem. VCU will tire the hell out of teams. If it can up its effective field goal percentage from 47.6 (last year's number) even to 50 percent (an average mark), VCU will almost definitely be a top-three team in the league, as it's prognosticated.

Why this team might disappoint: The league is so good and the Rams' offense has to prove itself against a conference that had nine teams average more than a point per possession. The Atlantic 10 would be a step up from the CAA in normal circumstances, but when you factor in how six teams in this conference received first-place votes, you understand just how good the A-10 will be. And remember, VCU didn't even win the CAA last year; Drexel took it. So if the expectation level for VCU is now automatic tournament berths and at least one win (VCU "upset" Wichita State in a 12-5 matchup in Portland last March), then yes, it could disappoint. Smart knows success isn't guaranteed, and he really cautions people against thinking too highly of him or his team. He's got good players and has won in tight spots, but nothing is promised. VCU is a good program on a nice run right now. We simply don't know how it will adapt to its new league.

Also, VCU gets hurt with Jordan Burgess being a partial qualifer. Freshman Mo Alie-Cox is the other player who got hit by the NCAA, but chances are he wouldn't have even factored into VCU's plans this year.
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Old 10-10-2012, 10:23 PM   #122 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...hallenges-inc/
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The Virginia men’s basketball team will play VCU this month, a matchup thousands of fans in the state would love to see. They won’t get the chance.

The teams will play under an NCAA provision that allows a closed-door scrimmage in place of traditional preseason games. The session will operate more like a workout than a game, with coaches able to stop things for teaching and set up different scenarios.

Afterward, no stats or other information can be shared by participants.

That may work in the favor of the Cavaliers, who conducted their annual media day on Wednesday before practice.

Head coach Tony Bennett gave a grim report as it relates to his point guards.

Both are currently injured. Senior Jontel Evans suffered a stress fracture in his right foot, while sophomore Malcolm Brogdon had surgery in March for a broken bone in his left foot.
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As for the scrimmages, it’s something the coach has done every year since arriving. The Cavaliers will host VCU at John Paul Jones Arena, and travel to Baylor for their other preseason slot. That also will be a closed-door scrimmage.
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Old 10-11-2012, 06:46 AM   #123 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

I was trying to figure out how to beat you guys by looking at some of your games last year that you lost, and all I got for it was confusion (havoc?).

When WH puts out the last two forecasts for VCU and XU, whatever he puts you guys at, we'll be the oppositie. So, if your 11-5 in conf, we'll be 5-11. Or worse, 12-4 and 4-12.

You led your league in points per possession and defense, but your shooting percentage was 3rd from the bottom. Are you susceptible to the same sort of pressure defense you employ? Or did you just need better shooters which you may have this year?
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:04 AM   #124 (permalink)
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We just needed better shooters. We're very good at handling pressure. We practice against ourselves after all. We are great against teams that try to out-athlete or speed things up. We're much worse against teams that try to beat us up inside and slow down the game. That was a recipe for success against VCU last year. Commanding the offensive glass and forcing us to play half-court offense, because we didn't have a strong shooting team. If we're missing shots, we can't set up our press, and we did that a fair amount. Points off of turnovers allowed us to set up the press off those baskets and we are very effective in the press. A good percentage of our offense came off of our defense since the shooting was so poor. Shaka says that we are improved on the offensive end this year, so we'll see if that changes.

We were pretty young and inexperienced last year. Our starting 2 guard averaged less than 5 mpg the year before. Our leading returning mpg guy from the year before other than Brad Burgess was back-up PG Darius Theus who got about 15 mpg. We had 2 freshmen play 16 and 18 minutes a game last year. Our shooting was pretty inconsistent as a result.

Brad Burgess was the only 1 of our top 5 scorers from the Final Four year that was one the team. He really did not adjust well from being a role player to the go-to option. He had several awful games and only shot 36.5% from the field after shooting no less than 48% in any of the 3 prior seasons. He dropped from 43.4% from 3 as a junior to 36.7% as a senior. No matter how you cut it that's a significant drop-off and he was the guy taking a lot of the shots for us and considered our go-to guy.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:09 AM   #125 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

Sounds like we need to recall Kenny Frease from Europe and try to figure out a way to sneak Tu back in the lineup.
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Old 10-11-2012, 07:22 AM   #126 (permalink)
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Yeah a guy like Frease would have given us trouble. The strength of our team is in the back court. Our bigs to this point have been a bit on the soft side. Reddic at 6'9 is very skilled, athletic, and has high upside but he's more of a natural 4 that ends up playing the 5 in our system on several possessions. DJ Haley has been raw and doesn't play much more than 15 mpg despite his size at 7 feet, 250 pounds. We'll see if he can contribute more as a junior. Hinton is a walk-on who has never played more than a couple of minutes a game and Jarred Guest and Justin Tuoyo are both unknown commodities. Guest played a very limited role as a freshman and Tuoyo is just coming into the program.

If we have a weakness it is in the front court. Big bruising teams that pound the glass and get 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opportunities and are great at junking up the game are kryptonite for VCU a lot of the time, especially if we're not hitting shots. If we are, it's extremely difficult to beat us regardless.
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:55 AM   #127 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

http://aroundthehorns.wordpress.com/...012-13-season/
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The expectations swirling around the 2012-13 VCU Basketball season are higher than probably any point during the last 25 years. This week alone, The Sporting News, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated all tabbed the Rams a preseason top 25 team. Although none of those entities are responsible for either of the “official” polls, it’s notable because VCU hasn’t been ranked during the regular season since 1985.

Despite the potential for unwanted scrutiny, senior Darius Theus says the Rams aren’t running from the attention.

“I think that the same expectations they have, we have for ourselves,” said Theus, who averaged 8.5 points and 4.7 assists per game last season. “We’re going to try our best to meet them all. But Coach [Shaka Smart] wants us to stay humble, stay level-headed. Whatever we can control on the court is what we can control. But we’re setting high expectations for ourselves.”
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Theus’ conclusion? The sky is the limit.

“We can be real good if everybody is bought into the plan that Coach Smart is trying to get us to do,” Theus said. “We can do some great things this season. It’s about everybody just being 100 percent about VCU Basketball. If we can have that, then however many goals we set, we can reach them.”
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Theus believes Johnson and Tuoyo can integrate with an already experienced VCU roster that returns starters Troy Daniels (10.0 ppg), D.J. Haley (3.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Juvonte Reddic (10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg), as well as notable bench contributors Rob Brandenberg (9.0 ppg), Treveon Graham (7.0 ppg) and Briante Weber (4.9 ppg, 2.1 spg).

“We’ve got some real good guys on the team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons. I just feel like our depth this year is very, very good. We could have maybe a nine-man rotation.”
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Old 10-11-2012, 09:29 AM   #128 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

I really believe if he can play a hint of defense Johnson will be on the court this year. He is too much of an offensive weapon, which we need, to not have out there at time times.
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:18 AM   #129 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

VCU comes in at #21 in Luke Winn's Sports Illustrated Preseason Power rankings joining The Sporting News (25), NBC Sports (21), and CBS Sports (23) as sports outlets listing VCU in their preseason top 25: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/201...ngs/index.html
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:37 AM   #130 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/sports...ht-ar-2276882/
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VCU heads into its first practice today with all of its top players back from a 29-7 team except guard/forward Bradford Burgess, who started an NCAA record 146 consecutive games and finished his career as one of three Rams to score 1,600 points, grab 700 rebounds and register 200 assists.

Replacing his multiple roles and positions would be a major concern without Graham, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore wing who showed promise as a scorer and rebounder last season. He averaged 7 points (with a high of 18) and 3.2 rebounds in 16.8 minutes.

"The guy can really, really score," VCU coach Shaka Smart said. "I'm as excited about him as I am about anybody. He's got a lot to work on . . . and he's got to get better. But he's made major progress, and I'm excited about what he's going to be able to do."

While Burgess impacted a lot of areas, Smart says Graham can score "in just as many ways" and is better at drawing fouls. He can absorb contact around the rim and finish, has a nose for scoring off rebounds and has 3-point range, although it was inconsistent (31.3 percent).

Graham was 3 for 23 from the floor in VCU's first eight games last season, which he attributed to nerves. By the end, he was an integral part of the rotation as VCU beat Wichita State in the NCAA tournament before losing to Indiana 63-61 in the round of 32.
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"I'm not trying to take the spot of Brad," he said. "I'm just trying to come in and kind of do what I can do as a scorer. I'm trying to work more on my defensive game and just different aspects of the game that will make the team better.

"I want to be one of the key players on the team. I'll have a little more responsibility than I had last year. I want to try to do whatever I can to get my team wins this year. I'm trying to get back to the tournament and do the best we can in the tournament."

NOTE: Smart said last week that freshman guard Melvin Johnson has been hampered by a hip flexor injury, which he came in with during the summer. "If we can get him healthy and continue to get him understanding what we do defensively, he can really make shots," Smart said. "Right now, he's the second-best shooter on the team behind Troy (Daniels)."
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:26 PM   #131 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/4982

VCU comes in at #27 in College Sports Madness Preseason Top 144, #2 in the A-10. Saint Louis is presumably #1.
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The competition just got tougher…for VCU and the Atlantic 10. The Rams left the CAA and will join Butler as the newest members of the A-10. That turns an already underappreciated conference into one that will be right in the mix with the Big Six when it comes to the RPI. Despite all the scorers, it is point guard Darius Theus who is the extension of Coach Shaka Smart on the floor. Theus can score when he needs to, but it is his job to orchestrate the Rams offense and spearhead the havoc on the defensive end of the floor. Theus dished out 4.7 assists last year and tallied 2.0 steals per game. His senior year should be even better. Briante Weber is another pesky defender who creates plenty of fast break opportunities for the Rams. Weber is also the backup point guard, but do not be surprised to see Theus and Weber on the floor at the same time more in 2012-2013.
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:28 PM   #132 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

http://www.thehoopsreport.com/article.aspx?id=980

VCU comes in at #24 in The Hoops Report's Top 68 Team Previews.

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The VCU Rams are one of the newest members to the Atlantic 10, helping the conference to replace the Temple Owls and the Charlotte 49ers. Head coach Shaka Smart brings back a veteran squad, and has also brought in a talented freshman class. Smart and his Rams will need to cause “Havoc” in the A-10 this season.

“Havoc” is the high-octane pace that the coach has installed at VCU. Smart’s teams apply full-court pressure on their opponents and look to score in transition. This style of play has been effective for the Rams, helping amass a .750 win percentage for their head coach. The team’s frenetic defense last season held opponents to 59.8 points per game.

While the Rams defense was strong their offense was lacking. VCU scored 68.4 points per game, which was good enough169th in the NCAA. Smart’s team will need to improve offensively if they plan to repeat as champions of the A-10. To do that they will need to replace last season’s leading scorer Bradford Burgess. The player to watch to fill the void left by Burgess is Juvonte Reddic. As a sophomore last season, Reddic was the team’s second leading scorer averaging 10.3 points per game. Junior guard Rob Bradenberg will also look to help Reddic handle the scoring load.
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Old 10-14-2012, 09:50 PM   #133 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

The biggest question going into this season for VCU is rebounding. Burgess was the teams second leading rebounded avg. 5 boards a game coupled with 13.4 pts. Only Reddic had more boards. As a team VCU ranked (210) avg. 33.5 boards per game. Offense boards just under 11 and defensive boards around 20. VCU came in below 200 in these areas and filling Burgess's shoes will be a tougher task than people think. The backcourt I think will remain solid and equal or raise levels regarding steals (10.5 gm) and may even have a higher FG % as a unit, but Reddic and Haley will have to do an effective job inside with regard to rebounding in face of bigger, stronger opposition game in and game out in the A-10.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:20 AM   #134 (permalink)
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re: The VCU Rams

One thing that is lost in our weak rebounding numbers is the fact that we typically have more possessions than our opponents by forcing 17 turnovers a game. When manufacturing points through hard nosed defense you can take a rebounding deficit and survive. We've managed to win 84 games under Shaka despite sub par rebounding numbers.

I'm much more concerned about our ability to knock down shots.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:57 AM   #135 (permalink)
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Yep, all about making shots with this squad. VCU's rebounding numbers have always been lower because of our system.

If we can't score, we can't set up the press. It's a huge part of what makes us successful. We have to improve there.
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